Teaching My Daughter the F-Word: Feminist

21 Jun

This week my brain has been hard at work on a dilemma. In two weeks my first child will turn 8-years-old. She will officially what marketers call a pretween and at the same time no longer be my little baby. I love my kid and besides the normal mother and daughter fighting she is a pretty rad. She is assertive, stubborn, compassionate about others and speaks her mind. I just am afraid that she won’t stay that way. 

My fear that someday some man or even woman will say something to my kid that will stunt these qualities in her that I love so much. I fear the day she chooses to act stupid to impress someone or to make someone feel better about themselves. I fear that one day she will see a boy talk down to a girl and not speak up. I fear that my daughter will choose to turn a blind eye to the injustice woman face daily, only to apply more MAC eyeliner. 

But are these just crazed worries of a mother who is trying to stop the clock?

I was in the bookstore yesterday and picked up a copy of Bust Magazine (yes, they are still in print!) and was shocked to find that it was the 20th anniversary issue. It has been 20 years since the Riot Grrl movement, 20 years since I fell in love with Kim Gordon, and 20 years since I found my voice. Bust and other zines like it were not just responsible for my teenage years they are one of the reasons I wave my feminist flag high. I was luck to grow up in a time where I could find a group of my peers that felt the same anger I did for being shorthanded and boxed in. I spend the summer of my senior year on tour with Lilith Faire. I went on to a women’s college. I ran a zine in high school. I was a grrl on a mission, and that mission has helped me become a full functioning adult who doesn’t put up with machismo shit. 

I am worried that there will be nothing like that for my daughter to grasp onto and hold tight for dear life. Who is there for her to look up to as a girl? Taylor Swift (while Saccharine sweet) is not cutting it for me. Sure she will pick up feminist ideals from her good ol’ mom her aunts and even her grandfather (who has been dubbed by my friends as a super feminist). But it was not my family that helped me build the courage to speak out against backhanded sexist comments. It was popular role models I found on movie screens, at concerts and read their words in books. I am worried, what the fuck is there for my daughter’s generation? Miley Cyrus? Katy Perry? 

In a world where girls are forced to grow up to fast, how are mothers supposed to uphold feminist ideals when our daughters are surrounded by a pop culture that talks down to them and promotes using looks and status as a way to influence others? 

I am at a loss. Either I step my game up or start campaigning for more young woman like Tavi Gevinson to make their way into the spotlight (though I have no pull in Hollywood or mass media so this might be a waste of time). I know that I can love my daughter and talk to her about what it feels like to be cheated out of something because you are a girl. I can talk to her about treating other girls (her friends) with respect and that judgement of others only feeds into society’s impression that females are catty. I can help her understand that being smart holds more weight that being pretty and that just because women have been doing something since the dawn of time doesn’t mean that it needs to be overlooked, it needs to be applauded. 

Feminism might be a big word for a 8-year-old to understand, but I know that she is smart enough to get the picture. I just hope I don’t loose the battle against mass media. 

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